UCF's case for …
• It's a natural rivalry. Just 100 or so miles apart, Tampa Bay competes with Orlando in everything from airports to workforce. Why not college football?
• It makes money. It's a game that engages the fans and packs the house. The games have been among both schools' best-attended.
• It's good for football in Florida. Playing USF every season gives UCF a chance to move up in the perceived state hierarchy. Remember when football in Florida was king? Florida, Florida State and Miami jockeyed around the Top 10 for many years. Good times.
USF's case against …
• UCF isn't competitive. The Bulls have beaten the Knights all three times they've played. Last year, USF pounded the eventual Conference USA champion 64-12. UCF is 2-39 all time against BCS teams. It's more rout than rivalry.
• Fans come anyway. USF's attendance is up. It drew 48,058 for last week's opener against Tennessee-Martin. UCF doesn't even have that many seats.
• All the risk is on USF. Every time they take the field, the Bulls give the Knights a chance to hoist themselves to a higher level in the state pecking order. The Bulls are expected to win. So when they do, it's ho-hum. If the Knights happen to pull the upset, it puts a spotlight on a USF failure and gives the Knights something to crow about in recruiting. Look at it this way: If Florida Atlantic, from the lesser Sun Belt Conference, came to UCF and said, "Hey, we're close by, let's play every year," would the Knights do it?
Greg Auman, Times staff writer